Back in the day, as a new practice period student going to afternoon zazen, I remember being struck by how Blanche, who was the abbess in those days, would go round to the end of the gaitan after service, and wait to bow to everyone who came out of the zendo. It was something we read of Suzuki Roshi doing in the early days of Sokoji; it had a profound effect on many of those who came to sit with him then, who felt completely seen and met. I felt the same way at seeing Blanche's kind warm eyes and smile waiting for me to take my place and bow in front of her - such freely offered, abundant love is rarely met.
With the start of the practice period, she has been sitting again most every evening, and heading out to the gaitan to meet people, and these days I am often the first one out to bow with her, which is very sweet.
I was already thinking about writing a few lines about this, when I received this as part of an email conversation yesterday (hoping the person will forgive me for reproducing their words unattributed):
"It has been an overwhelming time at the office lately, which tends to leave me physically drained, emotionally volatile, and generally less available for my non-work life. When I realized Blanche was waiting for me at the end of the gaitan, I about burst into tears from the kindness and patience".
There is nothing more to our practice than this.